David R. Miller


David R. Miller

Oceans and Seas December 1st 2013

The captain wakes us this morning around 8 am once again. We have arrived during the night at Paradise Harbour, a natural shelter formed by two islands and the mainland. This location, delineated by mountains and glaciers on all sides and sheltered from stormy seas, must have seemed a relative paradise to whomever named it. It is a brilliant sunny day with wispy clouds, and the beauty of the surroundings once again takes our breath away. There are two research stations here: Brown Station, an Argentinian facility, and a Chilean station named for a Chilean president who was the first head of state to visit the Antarctic continent. Both stations have interesting histories. Brown Station is famous for having once been burned to the ground by a scientist who went crazy. The Chilean station stands on ... read more

North America » Canada » Ontario » Ottawa November 5th 2013

Homeward bound! Nothing on the agenda this morning, so we sleep a bit, hoping to beat our respective colds. And indeed we both feel a bit better this morning. We entertain the idea of trying to slip in one more Hong Kong expeditions in the morning, but there is a light rain with thunder storms forecasted, so we demur. Instead, after breakfast, seeing that the weather has actually cleared up somewhat, I decide to go out solo and explore the neighborhood on foot. The specialty of the area we're in seems to be dried foodstuffs, particularly seafood. They have interesting items like shark's fin, abalone, starfish, seahorse, etc., as well as many kinds of dried mushrooms. I drink in the sights, sounds and smells of the Hong Kong streets, knowing this is my last chance. I ... read more
Corner shop, Hong Kong, China

Asia » Hong Kong November 4th 2013

Up at the blessedly civilized hour of 7 am. Breakfast buffet at the hotel, which is decent. There's a muted TV in one corner of the room, and I'm amused to see coverage of the Rob Ford affair. Canada makes the news in China! Unfortunately, the cold bug has claimed victory over my immune system, and I am not in good shape at all today. It's a warm (29°), humid and overcast day. Charles meets us in the lobby at 9 to start our city tour. The bus first takes us up Victoria Peak, the highest point in the city. This is the area where multi-millionaires and billionaires live. Magnificent homes are perched in the most improbable locations on the steep mountainside. The bus climbs and climbs, and eventually we reach the viewing area, if not ... read more
Our motley crew, Victoria Peak, Hong Kong, China
Literal junk, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, China
Stanley Market, Hong Kong, China

Asia » Hong Kong » Hong Kong Island November 3rd 2013

Today is another travel day. Unfortunately, I wake up struck pretty hard by the cold that has been circulating. I am disappointed, because I thought I had already faced it down and staved it off. Violet is still coughing quite badly as well. Looks like we will finish this trip as a couple of sickies. Early start. By 8:15 am, we have had breakfast, checked out of the hotel and are on the bus. We are headed for the Shanghai international airport, not the domestic airport we arrived at. As I'm sure you know, while Hong Kong is now officially part of the country of China after being a British possession for 150 years, it is different and special in many ways. Flying to it is like flying to another country. You pass Chinese customs on ... read more

Asia » China » Shanghai November 2nd 2013

Today we have a free day in Shanghai. We give ourselves the luxury of sleeping in a bit, to 8 pm. Violet and I have mapped out our day with our two main traveling companions and have had breakfast and are on the road by 9:30. Both of us are still battling some cold symptoms, but we're not alone, because many of us are in the same boat. We were originally going to take the subway but opt for a cab because there are four of us. Cab fares in Shanghai (and presumably in China as a whole) are very reasonable: 14¥ for the first 3 km and then 1¥ per km. And plus you are treated to in-cab entertainment as the cab careens through the streets, between lanes, over curbs, on shoulders, forcing its way ... read more
East Nanjing pedestrian mall
The Bund, Shanghai, China

Asia » China » Shanghai November 1st 2013

Up at 6:30. Breakfast at the hotel, a nice spread that is as disorganized in layout as the hotel. A huge plate of dragon fruit is a big hit. We check out of the hotel and are on the bus at 9:00. As we drive through Suzhou, Jack battles an attack of laryngitis to tell us some more about his home town, of which he is clearly very proud. He tells us that Suzhou is not known for its warriors or rulers, but rather for its artists, poets and musicians. One of the interesting anecdotes he recounts is that it apparently is a local tradition to plant a camphor tree in the yard to mark the birth of a girl. When the girl marries, the father cuts down the tree and makes a box out of ... read more
Silk worms eating mulberry leaves, Suzhou, China
Motor cycle finale, acrobatic show, Singapore, China
River boat on the Huangpu River, Shanghai, China

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Suzhou October 31st 2013

So we are now starting the last leg of our journey. It's incredible how the time has flown. We wake in Nanjing, but we will not spend too much time in this city of 4 million with its wealth of history. Breakfast at the hotel, which makes a few concessions to Westen tastes but is mostly Asian. My new experience for the day is Mung bean porridge, which turns out to be fine with milk. On the bus with Jack as tour guide. It is overcast but mild. As we drive through the city, we garner impressions of Nanjing. In some indefinably way, it feels old. It has lots of older, faded buildings, many falling into decrepitude. There are frequent vacant lots where buildings have clearly had to be knocked down. At the same time, lots ... read more
Dragon frieze, old city, Nanjing, China
Confucius temple, Nanjing, China
Marking exams, Nanjing, China

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Nanjing October 30th 2013

During the night, the ship has reached the Three Gorges dam and passed through its five locks, a process that took about four hours. It's also a fairly noisy process that disturbed our sleep. We are up at 6 am because the morning excursion to the dam leaves at 7:45 and we also have to repack for departure. It's a drizzly day and we dress in rainwear and take umbrellas (kindly supplied by the cruise line). We board a bus that whisks us to the main tourist reception area. We take a series of escalators to a hilltop observation area with a central tower. From there, on a clearer day, we would have a good view of the dam, but today the visibility is poor. We can see the locks that our ship recently passed through ... read more

Asia » China » Yangtze River October 29th 2013

Vi wakes up with a bad cold. And it turns out that 4 other people have bad gastro-intestinal distress. After breakfast, we attend a presentation called "Country Side to River Wide" given by Luther, the same guy who gave yesterday's presentation on the Yangzi. Luther was born and raised on a small rural subsistence farm, but studied hard, went to college in Chungqing to study hospitality, and now is an assistant cruise director. He tells us the story of his life, explains the customs of his people, and highlights the contrasts between traditional life in the village and modern life in the big city, complete with pictures and videos. Very interesting and enlightening. Vi retires to our room to sleep and I spend the rest of the morning trying desperately to catch up with the blog. ... read more
Sampan in the Lesser Gorges, Yantzi River, China
Sampan fleet in the Lesser Gorges, Yantzi River, China

Asia » China » Yangtze River October 28th 2013

The Victoria cruise line we are on is a family-run business based in New York. Each of the boats is named after a female member of the family, and ours is called the Victoria Jenna. The Yangzi River, at 6300 km the 3rd longest river in the world, is one of the two major rivers of China, along with the Yellow River. The Three Gorges stretch of the river is revered in Chinese culture and immortalized in Chinese song, poetry and art. The Three Gorges dam project, begun in 1997? and now 95% complete, is, according to the Chinese, the largest engineering project ever undertaken. It is certainly the world's largest hydroelectric power generation project. The secondary reason for the dam is to tame the devastating floods that used to yearly ravage the area. Depending on ... read more
Buddhist temple, Fengdu Ghost City, China
Three Buddhas, Fengdu Ghost City, China
King of Hell, Fengdu Ghost City, China

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